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Scrapping of Schools Bill is disappointing, says Church’s education officer

07 December 2022

ALAMY

The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, leaves Downing Street on Wednesday

The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, leaves Downing Street on Wednesday

THE Church of England’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, expressed his disappointment at the scrapping of the Schools Bill this week.

The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, told the Education Committee on Wednesday that the Bill — which the Government had said would “raise education standards across the country” — would not be progressing to its Third Reading.

The Schools Bill, introduced earlier this year, was based on a White Paper, Opportunity for All, which proposed that, by 2030, every school in England would be part of — or at least in the process of joining — a multi-academy trust (Features, 10 June).

The nuances of this were scrutinised in the House of Lords over the summer, including by Bishops (News, 15 July), many of whom were critical of aspects of the Bill. Several amendments were proposed, but lost.

Despite criticism by some that universal academisation might put the religious character of church schools at risk in the long term (News, 10 June), the Bill was generally supported by the (C of E and Church in Wales) National Society, though many diocesan education officers differed.

Mr Genders said on Wednesday: “We are disappointed that the work on the Bill to ensure aspects of the religious character of church schools, such as RE, collective worship, governance, and land, will not now be secured on a statutory basis, so will continue to work with the department to ensure those things can be secured in other ways.”

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